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4. An Examination of the “ Reasons for Attachment to the Church of
England," adduced by the Rev. Wm. Dalton, A.M., in his
8vo, pp. 48. Liverpool, 1834. 5. Speech of H. G. Ward, Esq., M.P., on moving certain Resolu.
tions respecting the Irish Church, in the House of Commons, on Tuesday, May 27, 1834. [Extracted from the Mirror of Par
liament.] 8vo, pp. 37. London, 1834. 6. The Church and the Clergy. Shewing that Religious Establish
ments derive no Countenance from the Nature of Christianity, and that they are not recommended by public Utility ; with some Observations on the Church Establishment of England and Ireland, and on the System of Tithes. By the late Jonathan Dymond.
8vo, pp. 55. Price 6d. London, 1834. 7. Questions, calmly considered, concerning the Church of the Living
God, her Nature, connexion with the State, as to Public Instruction and Public Morals, Civil Establishment, and Support by the
Voluntary Principle. By Indagator. 8vo, pp. 62. London, 1834. THERE are two prevalent misconceptions relating to the
pending national debate on the subject of the feudal Church and State system, of which the public generally require to be disabused, The first is, that the controversy has suddenly sprung up, and originates in novel and fanatical opinions, advanced by the sectaries and infidels of the day; the other, that it is a controversy purely between Dissenters and Churchmen. We beg leave to say a few words on each point.
In the first place, the opinions of Dissenters respecting the Church Establishment, are at least as old as the time of Wycliffe. The struggle, too, between the hierarchy and the commons of England, in the fifteenth century, bore, in many of its features, a close resemblance to that which is still going on in the nineteenth. In the address of the Commons against the clergy in the fourth year of Henry IV., pluralities and non-residence are dwelt upon as grievances, crying loudly for church reform, just as they are in the fourth year of William IV.; and then, as now, the alliance between the hierarchy and the court presented the greatest obstacle to the progress of any religious reformation. In the days of our great Proto-Reformer, men wondered greatly
why curates are so unfeeling to the people in taking tithes, ! since Christ and his Apostles took none, as men now take them, neither paid them, nor spake of them either in the gospel or in the epistles,—the perfect law of freedom and of grace.' 'Lord, why should our worldly clergy,' exclaims Wycliffe himself, claim tithes and offerings and customs from Christian people, more than did Christ and his apostles, and even more than men were burdened with under the law? Then, all priests and * deacons, and officers of the temple were maintained by tithes and
offerings alone, having no other lordship. But now, some worldly priest, who is more unable than others, by virtue of a 'bull of anti-Christ, shall have all the tithes and offerings to him*self.' "They take not tithes and offerings by the form of the Old Testament; that is, parting them in common to all the priests and ministers of the Church. Nor according to the form of the gospel; that is, stating a simple livelihood given without com
pulsion, by the free devotion of the people ; but they take them • according to a new law of sinful men, one priest challenging to himself the tithes of a great country ..
By restoring lordships to secular men, as is due by holy writ; and by reducing the clergy to weakness and wilful poverty, and ghostly 'travail, as lived Christ and his Apostles; sin should be destroy
ed in each degree of holy church, and holiness of life brought ‘in, and secular laws strengthened, and the poor commons aided, and good government, both spiritual and temporal, come again.'+
Such were the sentiments of that great apostle of England. Nor would it be difficult to make out a continued line of witnesses to the same true doctrine of church polity, from his days to the present. Milton but re-asserted the true way to drive hirelings out of the Church,' which had been taught by the elder reformers. Yet are these regarded by the clergy as quite modern ideas! A mere modern idea,' exclaims Mr. Alexander, in commenting upon the assertions of the clerical lecturer.
Is it possible that Mr. Dalton can be so extremely ill-informed as to believe his own assertion ? Has he yet to learn, that a protest against the use of compulsion in matters appertaining to conscience was recorded on the
pages of the immortal Wyclyffe, at the very earliest dawn of the reformation in England. Has he yet to peruse that dark chapter of England's history which details the butchery of such men as Barrow, and Greenwood, and Thacker, and Copping, for no other crime than the avowal of the sentiments Mr. Dalton impugns ? Is it new to him to be told, that in the days of Elizabeth the numbers of persons holding such sentiments in England were estimated by Raleigh at 20,000 men, exclusive of women and children ? the names of Ainsworth, Ames, Robinson, Goodwin, Gale, Charnock, Howe, Bunyan, De Veil, Caryl, and Watts so extremely obscure, that Mr. Dalton has never heard of them, or thought it worth his while to enquire into their principles ? Or has he yet to be informed, that the principles he has sneered at as modern, received the approbation of the sagacious Locke, and were defended by the pen of the glorious Milton ? If this be the state of his knowledge, he had better set himself to the study of ecclesiastical history, before he again ventures to dogmatize upon the antiquity of any theological opinion.
Vaughan's Life of Wycliffe, Vol. II. pp. 288–290. + Ib. p. 283.
• But it is not the antiquity of a century or two, merely, that dissenters claim for their principles: they affirm that these principles were contemporary with the very origin of Christianity, and form an essential part of its original constitution as a system of social religion.'
Alexander's Examination, pp. 20–21. On the other hand, it would be easy to shew, that the opinions of the modern advocates of Church-establishments are of very recent formation. Nothing can be more widely different than the ground now taken by the advocates of Establishments, and the pretensions upon which the system was originally founded. The church and state alliance is part and parcel of the feudal system. It had its origin in the times that prelates and barons fought in the same armies, and quarrelled for military fiefs, and when sovereigns, led by priests and confessors, claimed by divine right to rule over the consciences of their subjects. Warburton's theory, Adam Smith's theory, Dean Milner's theory, Paley's theory of Establishments, are but modern and discordant attempts to find new reasons for the maintenance of old abuses. Dissenters may fairly retort the charge of advancing new opinions, upon those who, in the nineteenth century, have recourse to abstract arguments in defence of the encroachments of the aristocrasy, temporal and spiritual, in the fourteenth. Toleration itself is a novel doctrine, incompatible with the ancient theory of an establishment, and with the pretensions of the Apostolic Church. The divine right of the magistrate to persecute, has been maintained by all established Churches as a fundamental principle; and those prelates of our own day, who regard Dissenters as abandoned to the uncovenanted mercies of God, breathe the true spirit of the ancient faith. The liberal opinions of modern churchmen are then, we must contend, ideas much more modern than the opinions advanced by Dissenters respecting the connexion between Church and State; and, viewed in relation to the original constitution of state churches, they are in a sense dissenting opinions,--such as would, in former times, have subjected their abettors to the charge of liberalism and political heresy. It might just as truly be affirmed, that cathedrals were built for the simple purpose of preaching in, as that an establishment consisting of an endowed and privileged corporation of priests, was instituted for the purpose of teaching the people. There is not more difference between a Gothic abbey-church with its pillared promenades and sub-chapels, and a compact episcopal chapel of modern construction with its well-pewed area and galleries, -than there is between the complex hierarchy of ecclesiastical barons and dignitaries, and the simple idea of a body of religious teachers maintained by the State. Our ancestors were not so unwise as to build those pompous temples for a purpose to which they are so ill adapted as that of public instruction; nor were they so absurd as to mistake the corps ecclesiastical of metropolitans, diocesans, deans, canons, prebendaries, chancellors, archdeacons, for an order whose end and business it was to communicate religious instruction to the people. The functions for which these offices were instituted were of quite another character. Some of them had respect to the architecture, others to the sacred music; the higher posts had for their business to keep the clergy in order, in days when they yielded only a questionable obedience to the civil magistracy. For an established clergy have ever been prone to hold themselves entitled to be governed by their own prelates, independently of the secular power. The doctrine of Wycliffe, which subordinated the priesthood to the civil magistracy in every thing affecting the social interests of the laity, was a greater novelty in his day, and a more offensive one, than any other article of his creed. The claim set up in our own day on the part of the Established Church, to an absolute and irreversible right to the national property in trust, independent of either the crown or the legislature, is a relic of the daring claims of the papal clergy, who refused to the king a power of disposal conceded to the pontiff*. The spirit of the order is not extinct. It yet survives in antique halls and colleges, and is the endemic generated by the marshes of Isis. The old feud between the clergy and the commons of England smoulders still beneath the gothic rubbish of consecrated bowers, and now and then breaks out in impotent manifestations. Thus, at the saturnalia attending the recent installation of the great field-marshal as sovereign of Oxford University, the junior undergraduates greeted the cry of the House of Lords' with a thundering cheer, the House of Commons' with a loud hiss. So would it have been, doubtless, in the days of Wycliffe. 'The Bishops' excited thunders of applause; the King's Ministers' were loudly hissed. Again: "the
Duke of Beaufort and fox-hunting 'f was loudly cheered : “the Dissenters' was followed by a long protracted snuffle, and an ejaculation of Amen from numerous voices, in imitation of the nasal twang of the conventicle! Thus would the Lollards have been greeted by the licentious boy-students and 'worldly clerks' of other days. The Church has always been, as a corporation, at war with the spirit of the age, at variance with the Commons of England, and hostile to the liberties of the people. A grave
* Vaughan's Wycliffe, Vol. II. p. 276.
+ The Duke of B- swears roundly when he is with us in Oxfordshire,' was an observation some time since overheard by a friend of ours; "he dare not swear when he is in Somersetshire. True,' replied another gentleman, the dissenters are very numerous in that county,'
truth was betrayed by the rude and noisy clamours of these future priests and lordlings;—as a man in his cups often lets out hiş real mind. The Tory papers exult in the spirit of the age,' as demonstrated in the sentiments of these University nurslings; but of what age ? It is the spirit of an age gone by, embalmed by the Establishment; the spirit of obsolete institutions which must be laid open to the light and air of day, or the dry rot which is in their timbers will loosen their very foundations.
But we are digressing. We were saying that our wiser ancestors never mistook a hierarchy for a body of public instructors. The clergy were viewed as a separate estate of the realm ; and such, in fact, they were, by an unhallowed separation from the laity, originating in the fictions and exorbitant pretensions of a semi-pagan priesthood. They were separate from the people in their laws and government; they claimed, even when amenable to the laws for their crimes, 'benefit of clergy.' Is this the idea of a body of Christian pastors, of religious instructors ? Rather, it corresponds to the privileges of a Brahminical hierocrasy. The modern idea of an established clergy is that of a body of public instructors, maintained by a legal provision out of the public revenues or national property. But this is not at all the original notion, nor the true Oxford doctrine, which is, that the Church of England is a corporation enjoying its own princely revenues, and not indebted to, or responsible to the State for any portion of that property. The two doctrines are as widely different as any two points of the compass can be. Yet, these are points upon which churchmen differ from churchmen; and we are bound to say, that the more liberal and philosophical theory is of recent invention, and does not explain or vindicate the existing phenomena.
The Church of England is not, never was, never can be, till the whole system is changed, such an Establishment as Paley contends for, or such an alliance as Warburton vindicated. It is a feudal institution, modified by the graft of Protestantism, and by the corrective policy of the British Constitution, with which, though of a wholly foreign character, it has become so intricately and unhappily blended, but still retaining the characteristic features of the times and circumstances which gave it birth. The Church politic was, originally, like the free municipalities of the middle ages, a republic; but, like those, it became enslaved by its patrons and podestats, and has degenerated into the mere patrimony of the aristocrasy—a provision for younger brothers, cousins, and tutors of the nobility and gentry.
All sorts of mistakes are fallen into through confounding the Church doctrinal with the Church politic. Yet, who does not know that there are two Church-of-Englands, as distinct as flesh and spirit, and that these are “contrary the one to the other”?